Intimate Encounters: Filipina Women and the Remaking of Rural Japan

Intimate Encounters: Filipina Women and the Remaking of Rural Japan

Intimate Encounters: Filipina Women and the Remaking of Rural Japan

Intimate Encounters: Filipina Women and the Remaking of Rural Japan

Synopsis

This groundbreaking study explores the recent dramatic changes brought about in Japan by the influx of a non-Japanese population, Filipina brides. Lieba Faier investigates how Filipina women who emigrated to rural Japan to work in hostess bars-where initially they were widely disparaged as prostitutes and foreigners-came to be identified by the local residents as "ideal, traditional Japanese brides." Intimate Encounters, an ethnography of cultural encounters, unravels this paradox by examining the everyday relational dynamics that drive these interactions. Faier remaps Japan, the Philippines, and the United States into what she terms a "zone of encounters," showing how the meanings of Filipino and Japanese culture and identity are transformed and how these changes are accomplished through ordinary interpersonal exchanges. Intimate Encounters provides an insightful new perspective from which to reconsider national subjectivities amid the increasing pressures of globalization, thereby broadening and deepening our understanding of the larger issues of migration and disapora.

Excerpt

This book is about the ways that cultural encounters make a difference in how people craft lives and selves in a globally interconnected world. It is about how paths converge in sometimes unexpected ways and the new forms of culture and identity that develop through their meeting. My approach to cultural encounters emphasizes the intimate and everyday dynamics of transnational cultural crossings. I describe how Filipina migrants and Japanese residents in a region of southwestern Nagano that I call Central Kiso create new meanings of Japanese and Filipino culture and identity through their shared daily lives.

I use the expression cultural encounters to refer to the coming together of different discourses, genealogies of meaning, and forms of desire. Cultural encounters include interpersonal encounters, but they also involve historical interactions that extend beyond single individuals or cultural groups. Questions of encounter have been important in recent efforts to understand transnational formations of people, capital, and culture. While these studies make valuable use of ideas about flexibility and dynamics, as I discuss later, with few exceptions they tend to focus on the ways that such processes take shape within discursive, cultural, or political-economic formations. in contrast, I argue that the everyday dynamics of encounter constitute disparate meanings and subjects. I focus on quotidian sites of interaction where terms of culture and belonging get reworked on multiple sides. in this approach, the beginnings and endings of any encounter always lie somewhere in the middle of interactive, everyday social and historical processes.

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